Once I was 18 years old. I thought I was pretty smart and tough. Right then, God brought this person named Guy into my life who blew my mind. It’s complicated to explain, but suffice it to say that just by being himself, he made me realize some ways in which I was being…well, a phony. I wasn’t out to impress people, but I did have so many walls up! Guy inspired me to be a more sincere person, no matter what that looked like.
He had experienced some terrible pain in his short life–losing his own father–and he was pretty honest about his feelings in his poems. This inspired me to write, as well, and to talk to God about things I had never faced before.
For one great summer we shared our hearts and our faith. We hung out a lot (NO makeout sessions whatsoever!) trying to figure out how to be deep with one another and wanting to be close, without being sappy. At the end of that summer, we each had to go away to college hundreds of miles apart, so we wrote a lot of letters. (We didn’t have easy access to email in the mid-90’s , and phone calls cost 10 cents a minute!) We got to see each other only briefly on the summer break, and went back to our separate colleges. Our closeness remained, though, as we kept sharing with one another any and all spiritual lessons, hopes for the future, etc.
And then, in January of our sophomore year, he died.
Just like that. No warnings, no goodbyes. God just took him. His heart stopped while he was alone in his bed. No one had known he was at risk.
By God’s grace I handled it pretty well, with a great support system and some closure after the fact. How would I have handled it with all those walls up, the ones he had broken down? Even decades later, I can say that the loss definitely changed my life. I remember thinking, God must have a reason for me to be here. If He didn’t, I guess I’d be gone, too.
Now, a person might say, “God, that relationship was sooo good! Why did You have to take it away?”
Asking that question is not bad, for God can handle our questions. Because of this blog, however, something profound occurred to me: what does this particular situation look like from the other side?
God only knows. Perhaps, though, we could see it this way:
God knew the exact moment that He was going to take Guy home to Himself.
Knowing, this, He chose to use Guy do something powerful in my life, first.
So instead of saying “why did you give your child Laurel such a great friend and then take him away?” we could be saying “what a wise and powerful way to use one child of God to bless another child of God!” Even though things didn’t progress the way I thought they would, I can say that God gave me a very, very good gift.
Of course, God did more than just “use” Guy. He blessed him with comfort, too. And, I realize that mine was not the only life that was touched by him. At the funeral in his college state, I met some of his peers. All of us are who we are, in part, because of how God used Guy in our lives.
Glory be to the One who knows all things. In him we live, and move, and have our being. I will never know all the things He knows, but using my sanctified imagination in this way frees me up to trust Him.
What can you try to see from the other side today?
…But when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
2 Corinthians 13:10-12
Hi-quality snapshot of Guy, my high school best friend Jessica, and me.